Open main menu

Folk-Lore/Volume 1/English and Scotch Fairy Tales

< Folk-Lore‎ | Volume 1

Folk-Lore.



Vol. I.]
[No. III.
SEPTEMBER, 1890.



ENGLISH AND SCOTCH FAIRY TALES.[1]




I. Rashin Coatie.

THERE was a king and a queen, as mony anes been, few have we seen, and as few may we see. The queen she deeit, and left a bonnie little lassie; and she had naething to gie to the wee lassie but a little red calfy, and she telt the lassie whatever she wanted, the calfy would gie her. The king married again, an ill-natured wife, wi’ three ugly dochters o’ her ain. They did na like the little lassie because she was bonnie; they took awa’ a’ her braw claes that her ain mither had geen her, and put a rashin coatie on her, and gart her sit in the kitchen neuk, and a’ body ca’d her Rashin Coatie. She did na get ony thing to eat but what the rest left, but she did na care, for she went to her red calfy, and it gave her everything she asked for. She got good meat from the calfy, but her ill-natured step-mother gart the calfy be killed, because it was good to Rashin Coatie. She was very sorry for the calfy, and sat down and grat. The dead calfy said to her:

“Tak’ me up, bane by bane,
And pit me aneth yon grey stane,

and whatever you want, come and seek it frae me, and I will give you it.” Yuletide came, and a’ the rest put on their braw claes, and was gaen awa’ to the kirk. Rashin Coatie said, “Oh, I wad like to gang to the kirk too!” but the others said, “What would you do at the kirk, you nasty thing? You must bide at hame and make the dinner.” When they were gone to the kirk, Rashin Coatie did na ken how to make the dinner, but she went out to the grey stone, and she told the calfy that she could not make the dinner, and she wanted to win to the kirk. The calfy gave her braw claes, and bade her gang into the house, and say:

“Every peat gar ither burn,
Every spit gar ither turn,
Every pot gar ither play,
Till I come frae the kirk this good Yule day.”

Rashin Coatie put on the braw claes that the calfy gave her, and went awa’ to the kirk, and she was the grandest and the brawest lady there. There was a young prince in the kirk, and he fell in love with her. She cam’ awa’ before the blessing, and she was hame before the rest, and had off her braw claes, and had on her rashin coatie, and the calfy had covered the table, and the dinner was ready, and every thing in good order when the rest came hame. The three sisters said to Rashin Coatie, “Oh, lassie, if you had only seen the braw bonnie lady that was in kirk to-day, that the young prince fell in love with!” She said: “Oh, I wish you would let me gang with you to the kirk to-morrow”; for they used to gang three days after ither to the kirk. They said: “What should the like o’ you do at the kirk—nasty thing? The kitchen neuk is good enough for you.” The next day they went away and left her, but she went back to her calfy, and he bade her repeat the same words as before, and he gave her brawer claes, and she went back to the kirk, and a’ the world was looking at her, and wondering where sic a grand lady came from; and as for the young prince, he fell more in love with her than ever, and bade somebody watch where she went back to. But she was back afore anybody saw her, and had off her braw claes and on her rashin coatie, and the calfy had the table covered, and everything ready for the dinner.

The next day the calfy dressed her in brawer claes than ever, and she went back to the kirk. The young prince was there, and he put a guard at the door to keep her, but she jumped over their heads, and lost one of her beautiful satin slippers. She got hame before the rest, and had on the rashin coatie, and the calfy had all things ready. The young prince put out a proclamation that he would marry whoever the satin slipper would fit All the ladies of the land went to try on the slipper, and with the rest the three sisters, but none would it fit, for they had ugly broad feet. The hen wife took in her daughter, and cut her heels and her toes, and the slipper was forced on her, and the prince must marry her, for he had to keep his promise. As he rode along with her behind him to be married, there was a bird began to sing, and ever it sang:

“Minched fit, and pinched fit,
Beside the king she rides,
But braw fit, and bonny fit,
In the kitchen neuk she hides.”

The prince said, “What is that the bird sings?” but the hen wife said, “Nasty lying thing! never mind what it says”; but the bird sang ever the same words. The prince said, “Oh, there must be some one that the slipper has not been tried on”; but they said, “There is none but a poor dirty thing that sits in the kitchen neuk and wears a rashin coatie.” But the prince was determined to try it on Rashin Coatie, but she ran awa’ to the grey stone, where the red calf dressed her yet brawer than ever, and she went to the prince, and the slipper jumped out of his pocket and on to her foot, and the prince married her, and they lived happy all their days.

[Told by Miss Margaret Craig, of Darliston, Elgin.—Dialect of Morayshire. Printed in “Revue Celtique, t. iii, with variants by Prof. R. Köhler]

II.—Nicht Nought Nothing.

There once lived a king and a queen. They were long married and had no bairns; but at last the queen had a bairn, when the king was away in far countries. The queen would not christen the bairn till the king came back, and she said, “We will just call him Nicht Nought Nothing until his father comes home.” But it was long before he came home, and the boy had grown a nice little laddie. At length the king was on his way back; but he had a big river to cross, and there was a spate, and he could not get over the water. But a giant came up to him, and said, “If you will give me Nicht Nought Nothing, I will carry you over the water on my back.” The king had never heard that his son was called Nicht Nought Nothing, and so he promised him. When the king got home again, he was very happy to see his wife again, and his young son. She told him that she had not given the child any name, but Nicht Nought Nothing, until he should come home again himself. The poor king was in a terrible case. He said, “What have I done? I promised to give the giant who carried me over the river on his back, Nicht Nought Nothing.” The king and the queen were sad and sorry, but they said, “When the giant comes we will give him the hen-wife’s bairn; he will never know the difference.” The next day the giant came to claim the king’s promise, and he sent for the hen-wife’s bairn; and the giant went away with the bairn on his back. He travelled till he came to a big stone, and there he sat down to rest. He said:

“Hidge, Hodge, on my back, what time of day is it?”

The poor little bairn said, “It is the time that my mother, the hen-wife, takes up the eggs for the queen’s breakfast.”

The giant was very angry, and dashed the bairn on the stone and killed it.

* * * * *

The same adventure is repeated with the gardener’s son.
******

Then the giant went back to the king’s house, and said he would destroy them all if they did not give him Nicht Nought Nothing this time. They had to do it; and when he came to the big stone, the giant said, “What time of day is it?” Nicht Nought Nothing said, “It is the time that my father the king will be sitting down to supper.” The giant said, “I’ve got the richt ane noo”; and took Nicht Nought Nothing to his own house and brought him up till he was a man.

The giant had a bonny dochter, and she and the lad grew very fond of each other. The giant said one day to Nicht Nought Nothing, “I’ve work for you to-morrow. There is a stable seven miles long and seven miles broad, and it has not been cleaned for seven years, and you must clean it to-morrow, or I will have you for my supper.”

The giant’s dochter went out next morning with the lad’s breakfast, and found him in a terrible state, for aye as he cleaned out a bit, it aye fell in again. The giant’s dochter said she would help him, and she cried a’ the beasts of the field, and a’ the fowls o’ the air, and in a minute they a’ came, and carried awa’ everything that was in the stable and made a’ clean before the giant came home. He said “Shame for the wit that helped you; but I have a worse job for you to-morrow.” Then he told Nicht Nought Nothing that there was a loch seven miles long, and seven miles deep, and seven miles broad, and he must drain it the next day, or else he would have him for his supper. Nicht Nought Nothing began early next morning and tried to lave the water with his pail, but the loch was never getting any less, and he did no ken what to do; but the giant’s dochter called on all the fish in the sea to come and drink the water, and very soon they drank it dry. When the giant saw the work done he was in a rage, and said, “I’ve a worse job for you to-morrow; there is a tree seven miles high, and no branch on it, till you get to the top, and there is a nest, and you must bring down the eggs without breaking one, or else I will have you for my supper.” At first the giant’s dochter did not know how to help Nicht Nought Nothing; but she cut off first her fingers and then her toes, and made steps of them, and he clomb the tree, and got all the eggs safe till he came to the bottom, and then one was broken. The giant’s dochter advised him to run away, and she would follow him. So he travelled till he came to a king’s palace, and the king and queen took him in and were very kind to him. The giant’s dochter left her father’s house, and he pursued her and was drowned. Then she came to the king’s palace where Nicht Nought Nothing was. And she went up into a tree to watch for him. The gardener’s dochter, going to draw water in the well, saw the shadow of the lady in the water, and thought it was herself, and said, “If I’m so bonny, if I’m so brave, do you send me to draw water?” The gardener’s wife went out, and she said the same thing. Then the gardener went himself, and brought the lady from the tree, and led her in. And he told her that a stranger was to marry the king’s dochter, and showed her the man: and it was Nicht Nought Nothing asleep in a chair. And she saw him, and cried to him, “Waken, waken, and speak to me!” But he would not waken, and syne she cried:

“I cleaned the stable, I laved the loch, and I clamb the tree,
And all for the love of thee,
And thou wilt not waken and speak to me.”

The king and the queen heard this, and came to the bonny young lady, and she said:

“I canna get Nicht Nought Nothing to speak to me for all that I can do.”

Then were they greatly astonished when she spoke of Nicht Nought Nothing, and asked where he was, and she said, “He that sits there in the chair.” Then they ran to him and kissed him and called him their own dear son, and he wakened, and told them all that the giant’s dochter had done for him, and of all her kindness. Then they took her in their arms and kissed her, and said she should now be their dochter, for their son should marry her.

And they lived happy all their days.

[Told by Miss Craig. Printed in “Revue Celtique”, t. iii, with variants by Prof. Köhler. Reprinted in “Custom and Myth]




III.—Cap o’ Rushes.

Well, there was once a very rich gentleman, and he’d three daughters, and he thought to see how fond they was of him. So he says to the first, “How much do you love me, my dear?”

“Why,” says she, “as I love my life.”

“That’s good,” says he.

So he says to the second, “How much do you love me, my dear?”

“Why,” says she, “better nor all the world.”

“That’s good,” says he.

So he says to the third, “How much do you love me, my dear?”

“Why, I love you as fresh meat loves salt” says she.

Well, he were that angry. “You don’t love me at all,” says he, “and in my house you stay no more.” So he drove her out there and then, and shut the door in her face.

Well, she went away on and on till she came to a fen, and there she gathered a lot of rushes and made them into a cloak, kind o’, with a hood, to cover her from head to foot, and to hide her fine clothes. And then she went on and on till she came to a great house.

“Do you want a maid?” says she,

“No, we don’t,” says they.

“I haint nowhere to go,” says she, “and I’d ask no wages, and do any sort o’ work,” says she.

“Well,” says they, “if you like to wash the pots and scrape the saucepans you may stay,” says they.

So she stayed there and washed the pots and scraped the saucepans and did all the dirty work. And because she gave no name they called her “Cap o’ Rushes”.

Well, one day there was to be a great dance a little way off, and the servants was let to go and look at the grand people. Cap o’ Rushes said she was too tired to go, so she stayed at home.

But when they was gone she offed her cap o’ rushes, and cleaned herself, and went to the dance. And no one there was so finely dressed as her.

Well, who should be there but her master’s son, and what should he do but fall in love with her the minute he set eyes on her. He wouldn’t dance with anyone else.

But before the dance was done Cap o’ Rushes she slipt off, and away she went home. And when the other maids was back she was framin’ to be asleep with her cap o’ rushes on.

Well, next morning they says to her, “You did miss a sight, Cap o’ Rushes!”

“What was that?” says she.

“Why, the beautifullest lady you ever see, dressed right gay and ga’. The young master, he never took his eyes off of her.”

“Well, I should ha’ liked to have seen her,” says Cap o’ Rushes.

“Well, there’s to be another dance this evening, and perhaps she’ll be there.”

But, come the evening, Cap o’ Rushes said she was too tired to go with them. Howsumdever, when they was gone, she offed with her cap o’ rushes and cleaned herself, and away she went to the dance.

The master’s son had been reckoning on seeing her, and he danced with no one else, and never took his eyes off of her. But, before the dance was over, she slipt off, and home she went, and when the maids came back she framed to be asleep with her cap o’ rushes on.

Next day they says to her again, “Well, Cap o’ Rushes, you should ha’ been there to see the lady. There she was again, gay and ga’, and the young master he never took his eyes off of her.”

“Well, there,” says she, “I should ha’ liked to ha’ seen her.”

“Well,” says they, “there’s a dance again this evening, and you must go with us, for she’s sure to be there.”

Well, come this evening, Cap o’ Rushes said she was too tired to go, and do what they would she stayed at home. But when they was gone she offed with her cap o’ rushes and cleaned herself, and away she went to the dance.

The master’s son was rarely glad when he saw her. He danced with none but her and never took his eyes off her. When she wouldn’t tell him her name, nor where she came from, he gave her a ring and told her if he didn’t see her again he should die.

Well, afore the dance was over, off she slipped, and home she went, and when the maids came home she was framing to be asleep with her cap o’ rushes on.

Well, next day they says to her, “There, Cap o’ Rushes, you didn’t come last night, and now you won’t see the lady, for there’s no more dances.”

“Well, I should ha’ rarely liked to ha’ seen her,” says she.

The master’s son he tried every way to find out where the lady was gone, but go where he might, and ask whom he might, he never heard nothing about her. And he got worse and worse for the love of her till he had to keep his bed.

“Make some gruel for the young master,” they says to the cook; “he’s dying for the love of the lady.” The cook she set about making it when Cap o’ Rushes came in.

“What are you a doin’ on?” says she.

“I’m going to make some gruel for the young master,” says the cook, “for he’s dying for love of the lady.”

“Let me make it,” says Cap o’ Rushes.

“Well, the cook wouldn’t at first, but at last she said yes, and Cap o’ Rushes made the gruel. And when she had made it she slipped the ring into it on the sly before the cook took it upstairs.

The young man he drank it and he saw the ring at the bottom.

“Send for the cook,” says he.

So up she comes.

“Who made this here gruel?” says he.

“I did,” says the cook, for she were frightened.

And he looked at her.

“No, you didn’t,” says he. “Say who did it, and you shan’t be harmed.”

“Well, then, ’twas Cap o’ Rushes,” says she.

“Send Cap o’ Rushes here,” says he.

So Cap o’ Rushes came.

“Did you make my gruel?” says he.

“Yes, I did,” says she.

“Where did you get this ring,” says he.

“From him as gave it me,” says she.

“Who are you, then?” says the young man.

“I’ll show you,” says she. And she offed with her cap o’ rushes, and there she was in her beautiful clothes.

Well, the master’s son he got well very soon, and they was to be married in a little time. It was to be a very grand wedding, and everyone was asked far and near. And Cap o’ Rushes’ father was asked. But she never told nobody who she was.

But before the wedding she went to the cook, and says she:

“I want you to dress every dish without a mite o’ salt,”

“That’ll be rarely tasty,” says the cook.

“That don’t signify,” says she.

“Very well,” says the cook.

Well, the wedding-day came, and they was married. And after they was married all the company sat down to their vittles. When they began to eat the meat, that was so tasteless they couldn’t eat it. But Cap o’ Rushes’ father he tried first one dish and then another, and then he burst out crying.

“What is the matter?” said the master’s son to him.

“Oh!” says he, “I had a daughter. And I asked her how much she loved me. And she said, ‘As much as fresh meat loves salt.’ And I turned her from my door, for I thought she didn’t love me. And now I see she loved me best of all. And she may be dead for aught I know.”

“No, father, here she is!” says Cap o’ Rushes. And she goes up to him and puts her arms round him.

And so they was happy ever after.

A. W. T.

[Discovered by Mr. E. Clodd in the Suffolk Notes and Queries of the “Ipswich Journal.” Reprinted in “Longman’s Magazine”, vol. xiii. Told by an old Servant to the Writer when a Child.]




IV. The Story of Kate Crackernuts.

Once upon a time there was a king and a queen, as in many lands have been. The king had a dochter, Kate, and the queen had one. The queen was jealous of the king’s dochter being bonnier than her own, and cast about to spoil her beauty. So she took counsel of the henwife, who told her to send the lassie to her next morning fasting. The queen did so, but the lassie found means to get a piece before going out. When she came to the henwife’s she asked for eggs, as she had been told to do; the henwife desired her to “lift the lid off that pot there” and see. The lassie did so, but naething happened. “Gae hame to your minnie and tell her to keep her press door better steekit,” said the henwife. The queen knew from this that the lassie had had something to eat, so watched the next morning and sent her away fasting; but the princess saw some country folk picking peas by the roadside, and being very affable she spoke to them and took a handful of the peas, which she ate by the way.

In consequence, the answer at the henwife’s house was the same as on the preceding day.

The third day the queen goes along with the girl to the henwife. Now, when the lid is lifted off the pot, off jumps the princess’s ain bonny head and on jumps a sheep’s head.

The queen, now quite satisfied, returns home.

Her own daughter, however, took a fine linen cloth and wrapped it round her sister’s head and took her by the hand and gaed out to seek their fortin. They gaed and they gaed far, and far’er than I can tell, till they cam to a king’s castle. Kate chappit at the door and sought a “night’s lodging for hersel’ and a sick sister.” This is granted on condition that Kate sits up all night to watch the king’s sick son, which she is quite willing to do. She is also promised a “pock of siller” “if a’s right”. Till midnight all goes well. As twelve o’clock rings, however, the sick prince rises, dresses himself, and slips downstairs, followed by Kate unnoticed. The prince went to the stable, saddled his horse, called his hound, jumped into the saddle, Kate leaping lightly up behind him. Away rode the prince and Kate through the greenwood, Kate, as they pass, plucking nuts from the trees and filling her apron with them. They rode on and on till they came to a green hill. The prince here drew bridle and spoke, “Open, open, green hill, an’ let the young prince in with his horse and his hound,” and, added Kate, “his lady him behind.”

Immediately the green hill opened and they passed in. A magnificent hall is entered, brightly lighted up, and many beautiful ladies surround the prince and lead him off to the dance, while Kate, unperceived, seats herself by the door. Here she sees a bairnie playing with a wand, and overhears one of the fairies say, “Three strakes o’ that wand would mak Kate’s sick sister as bonnie as ever she was.” So Kate rowed nuts to the bairnie, and rowed (rolled) nuts till the bairnie let fall the wand, and Kate took it up and put it in her apron.

Then the cock crew, and the prince made all haste to get on horseback, Kate jumping up behind, and home they rode, and Kate sat down by the fire and cracked her nuts, and ate them. When the morning came Kate said the prince had a good night, and she was willing to sit up another night, for which she was to get a “pock o’ gowd”. The second night passed as the first had done. The third night Kate consented to watch only if she should marry the sick prince. This time the bairnie was playing with a birdie; Kate heard one of the fairies say, “Three bites of that birdie would mak the sick prince as weel as ever he was.” Kate rowed nuts to the bairnie till the birdie was dropped, and Kate put it in her apron.

At cockcrow they set off again, but instead of cracking her nuts as she used to do, Kate plucked the feathers off and cooked the birdie. Soon there arose a very savoury smell. “Oh!” said the sick prince, “I wish I had a bite o’ that birdie,” so Kate gave him a bit o’ the birdie, and he rose up on his elbow. By-and-by he cried out again, “Oh, if I had anither bite o’ that birdie!” so Kate gave him another bit, and he sat up on his bed. Then he said again, “Oh! if I had a third bite o’ that birdie!” So Kate gave him a third bit, and he rose quite well, dressed himself, and sat down by the fire, and when “the folk came i’ the mornin’ they found Kate and the young prince cracking nuts th’gether.” So the sick son married the weel sister, and the weel son married the sick sister, and they all lived happy and dee’d happy, and never drank out o’ a dry cappy.

[Collected by Mr. D. J. Robertson of the Orkneys. Printed man’s Magazine", vol. xiii.]

V.—Peerifool.

There were once a king and queen in Rousay who had three daughters. The king died and the queen was living in a small house with her daughters. They kept a cow and a kail yard (cabbage garden); they found their cabbage was all being taken away. The eldest daughter said to the queen, she would take a blanket about her and would sit and watch what was going away with the kail. So when the night came she went out to watch. In a short time a very big giant came into the yard; he began to cut the kail and throw it in a big cubby (creel). So he cut till he had it well filled.

The princess was always asking him why he was taking her mother’s kail. He was saying to her, if she was not quiet he would take her too.

As soon as he had filled his cubby he took her by a leg and an arm and threw her on the top of his cubby of kail, and away home he went with her.

When he got home he told her what work she had to do; she had to milk the cow and put her up to the hills called Bloodfield, and then she had to take wool, and wash and tease it, and comb and card, and spin and make claith.

When the giant went out she milked the cow and put her to the hills. Then she put on the pot and made porridge to herself. As she was supping it, a great many peerie (little) yellow-headed folk came running, calling out to give them some. She said:

“Little for one, and less for two,
And never a grain have I for you.”

When she came to work the wool, none of that work could she do at all.

The giant came home at night and found she had not done her work. He took her and began at her head, and peeled the skin off all the way down her back and over her feet. Then he threw her on the couples among the hens.

The same adventure befell the second girl. If her sister could do little with the wool she could do less.

When the giant came home he found her work not done. He began at the crown of her head and peeled a strip of skin all down her back and over her feet, and threw her on the couples beside her sister. They lay there and could not speak nor come down.

The next night the youngest princess said she would take a blanket about her and go to watch what had gone away with her sisters. Ere long, in came a giant with a big cubby, and began to cut the kail.

She was asking why he was taking her mother’s kail. He was saying if she was not quiet he would take her too. He took her by a leg and an arm and threw her on the top of his cubby and carried her away. Next morning he gave her the same work as he had given her sisters.

When he was gone out she milked the cow and put her to the high hills. Then she put on the pot and made porridge to herself. When the peerie yellow-headed folk came asking for some she told them to get something to sup with. Some got heather cows and some got broken dishes; some got one thing, and some another, and they all got some of her porridge.

After they were all gone a peerie yellow-headed boy came in and asked her if she had any work to do; he could do any work with wool. She said she had plenty, but would never be able to pay him for it. He said all he was asking for it was to tell him his name. She thought that would be easy to do, and gave him the wool. When it was getting dark an old woman came in and asked her for lodging.

The princess said she could not give her that, but asked her if she had any news. But the old woman had none, and went away to lie out.

There is a high knowe near the place, and the old woman sat under it for shelter. She found it very warm. She was always climbing up, and when she came to the top she heard someone inside saying, “Tease, teasers, tease; card, carders, card; spin, spinners, spin, for peerie fool, peerie fool is my name.” There was a crack in the knowe, and light coming out. She looked in and saw a great many peerie folk working, and a peerie yellow-headed boy running round them calling out that.

The old woman thought she would get lodging if she went to give this news, so she came back and told the princess the whole of it.

The princess went on saying “peerie fool, peerie fool” till the yellow-headed boy came with all the wool made into claith.

He asked what was his name, and she guessed names, and he jumped about and said “No”.

At last she said, “Peeriefool is your name.” He threw down the wool and ran off very angry.

As the giant was coming home he met a great many peerie yellow-headed folk, some with their eyes hanging on their cheeks, and some with their tongues hanging on their breasts. He asked them what was the matter. They told him it was working so hard pulling wool so fine. He said he had a good-wife at home, and if she was safe, never would he allow her to do any work again.

When he came home she was all safe, and had a great many webs lying all ready, and he was very kind to her.

Next day when he went out she found her sisters, and took them down from the couples. She put the skin on their backs again, and she put her eldest sister in a cazy (cubby or creel), and put all the fine things she could find with her, and grass on the top.

When the giant came home she asked him to take the cazy to her mother with some food for her cow. He was so pleased with her he would do anything for her, and took it away.

Next day she did the same with her other sister. She told him she would have the last of the food she had to send her mother for the cow ready next night. She told him she was going a bit from home, and would leave it ready for him. She got into the cazy with all the fine things she could find, and covered herself with grass. He took the cazy and carried it to the queen’s house. She and her daughters’ had a big boiler of boiling water ready. They couped it about him when he was under the window, and that was the end of the giant.

[Collected by Mr. D.J. Robertson of the Orkneys. Printed in “Longman’s Magazine”, vol. xiv.]




VI.—Coat o’ Clay.

Once on a time, in the parts of Lindsey, there lived a wise woman. Some said she was a witch, but they said it in a whisper, lest she should overhear and do them a mischief, and truly it was not a thing one could be sure of, for she was never known to hurt anyone, which, if she were a witch, she would have been sure to do. But she could tell you what your sickness was, and how to cure it with herbs, and she could mix rare possets that would drive the pain out of you in a twinkling; and she could advise you what to do if your cows were ill, or if you’d got into trouble, and tell the maids whether their sweethearts were likely to be faithful.

But she was ill-pleased if folks questioned her too much or too long, and she sore misliked fools. A many came to her asking foolish things, as was their nature, and to them she never gave counsel—at least of a kind that could aid them much.

Well, one day, as she sat at her door paring potatoes, over the stile and up the path came a tall lad with a long nose and goggle eyes and his hands in his pockets.

“That’s a fool, if ever was one, and a fool’s luck in his face,” said the wise woman to herself with a nod of her head, and threw a potato skin over her left shoulder to keep off ill-chance.

“Good-day, missis,” said the fool. “I be come to see thee.”

“So tha’ be,” said the wise woman; “I see that. How’s all in thy folk th’ year?”

“Oh, fairly,” answered he. “But they say I be a fool.”

“Ay, so tha’ be,” nodded she, and threw away a bad potato. “I see that too. But what wouldst o’ me? I keep no brains for sale.”

“Well, see now. Mother says I’ll ne’er be wiser all my born days; but folk tell us thou canst do everything. Can’t thee learn me a bit, so they’ll think me a clever fellow at home?”

“Hout-tout!” said the wise woman; “thou’rt a bigger fool than I thought. Nay, I can’t learn thee nought, lad; but I can tell thee summat. Thou’lt be a fool all thy days till thou get’s a coat o’ clay; and then thou’lt know more’n me.”

“Hi, missis; what sort of a coat’s that?” said he.

“That’s none o’ my business,” answered she. “Thou’st got to find out that.”

And she took up her potatoes and went into her house.

The fool took off his cap and scratched his head.

“It’s a queer kind of a coat to look for, sure-ly,” said he. “I never heard on a coat o’ clay. But then I be a fool, that’s true.”

So he walked on till he came to the drain near by, with just a pickle of water and a foot of mud in it.

“Here’s muck,” said the fool, much pleased, and he got in and rolled in it spluttering. “Hi, yi,” said he—for he had his mouth full—“I’ve got a coat o’ clay now to be sure. I’ll go home and tell my mother I’m a wise man and not a fool any longer.” And he went on home.

Presently he came to a cottage with a ramping lass at the door.

“Morning, fool,” said she; “hast been ducked in the horsepond?”

“Fool yourself,” said he, “the wise woman says I’ll know more’n she when I get a coat o’ clay, and here it is. Shall I marry thee, lass?”

“Ay,” said she, for she thought she’d like a fool for a husband, “when shall it be?”

“I’ll come and fetch thee when I’ve told my mother,” said the fool, and he gave her his lucky penny and went on. When he got home his mother was on the doorstep.

“Mother, I’ve got a coat o’ clay,” said he.

“Coat o’ muck,” said she, “an’ what of that?”

“Wise woman said I’d know more’n she when I get a coat o’ clay,” said he, “so I down in the drain an’ got one, an’ I’m not a fool any longer.”

“Very good,” said his mother, “now thou canst get a wife.”

“Ay,” said he, “I’m going to marry so-an’-so.”

“What!” said his mother, “that lass? No, an’ that thou’lt not. She’s nought but a brat, wi’ ne’er a cow or a cabbage o’ her own, an’ bears a bad name into the bargain.”

“But I gave her my luck-penny,” said the fool.

“Then thou’rt a bigger fool than ever, for all thy coat o’ clay!” said his mother, and banged the door in his face.

“Dang it!” said the fool, and scratched his head, “that’s not the right sort o’ clay, sure-ly.”

So back he went to the highroad and sat down on the bank of the river close by, looking at the water, which was cool and clear.

By-and-bye he fell asleep, and before he knew what he was about—plump—he rolled off into the river with a splash, and scrambled out, dripping like a drowned rat.

“Dear, dear,” said he, “I’d better go and get dry in the sun.” So up he went to the highroad, and lay down in the dust, rolling about so that the sun should get at him all over.

Presently, when he sat up and looked down at himself, he found that the dust had caked into a sort of skin over his wet clothes till you could not see an inch of them, they were so well covered. “Hi, yi!” said he, “here’s a coat o’ clay ready made, an’ a fine one. See now, I’m a clever fellow this time, sure-ly, for I’ve found what I wanted wi’out lookin’ for it! Wow, but it’s a fine feeling to be so smart!”

And he sat and scratched his head, and thought about his own cleverness.

But all of a sudden, round the corner came the squire on horseback, full gallop, as if the boggles after him; but the fool had to jump, even though the squire pulled his horse back on his haunches.

“What the dickins,” said the squire, “do you mean by lying in the middle of the road like that?”

“Well, measter,” said the fool, “I fell into the water and got wet, so I lay down in the road to get dry; an’ I lay down a fool an’ got up a wise man.”

“How’s that?” said the squire.

So the fool told him about the wise woman and the coat o’ clay.

“Ha, ha!” laughed the squire, “whoever heard of a wise man lying in the middle of the highroad to be ridden over? Lad, take my word for it, you’re a bigger fool than ever,” and he rode on laughing.

“Dang it!” said the fool, as he scratched his head. “I’ve not got the right sort of coat yet, then.” And he choked and spluttered in the dust that the squire’s horse had raised.

So on he went in a melancholy mood till he came to an inn, and the landlord at his door smoking.

“Well, fool,” said he, “thou’rt fine an’ mucky.”

“Ay,” said the fool, “I be mucky outside an’ dusty in, but it’s not the right thing yet.”

And he told the landlord all about the wise woman and the coat o’ clay.

“Hout-tout!” said the landlord, with a wink. “I know what’s wrong. Thou’st got a skin o’ muck outside an’ all dry dust inside. Thou must moisten it, lad, wi’ a good drink, an’ then thou’lt ha’ a real all-over coat o’ clay.”

“Hi,” said the fool, “that’s a good word.”

So down he sat and began to drink. But it was wonderful how much liquor it took to moisten so much dust, and each time he got to the bottom of the glass he found he was still dry. At last he began to feel very merry and pleased with himself.

“Hi, yi!” said he. “I’ve got a real coat o’ clay now outside and in—what a difference it do make, to be sure! I feel another man now—so smart!”

And he told the landlord he was certainly a wise man now, though he couldn’t speak over-distinctly after drinking so much. So up he got, and thought he would go home and tell his mother she hadn’t a fool for a son any more.

But just as he was trying to get through the inn door, which would scarcely keep still long enough for him to find it, up came the landlord and caught him by the sleeve.

“See here, master,” said he, “thou hasn’t paid thy score—where’s my money?”

“Haven’t any!” said the fool, and pulled out his pockets to show they were empty.

“What!” said the landlord, and swore; “thou’st drunk all my liquor and hain’t got nought to pay for it wi’!”

“Hi!” said the fool. “You told me to drink so as to get a coat o’ clay; but as I’m a wise man now I don’t mind helping thee along in the world a bit, for though I’m a smart fellow I’m not too proud to my friends.”

“Wise man! smart fellow!” said the landlord, “an’ help me along, wilt tha’? Dang it! thou’rt the biggest fool I iver seed, an’ it’s I’ll help thee first—out o’ this!”

And he kicked him out of the door into the road, and swore at him.

“Hum,” said the fool, as he lay in the dust; “I’m not so wise as I thought. I guess I’ll go back to the wise woman and tell her there’s a screw loose somewheres.”

So up he got and went along to her house, and found her sitting at the door.

“So thou’st come back,” said she, with a nod. “What dost want wi’ me now?”

So he sat down and told her how he’d tried to get a coat o’ clay, but he wasn’t any wiser for all of it.

“No,” said the wise woman, “thou’rt a bigger fool than ever, my lad.”

“So they all say,” sighed the fool; “but where can I get the right sort of coat o’ clay, then, missis?”

“When thou’st done wi’ this world, an’ thy fo’ak put thee in the ground,” said the wise woman. ”That’s the only coat o’ clay as’ll make such as thee wise, lad. Born a fool, die a fool, an’ be a fool thy life long, an’ that’s the truth!”

And she went into the house and shut the door.

“Dang it!” said the fool. “I must tell my mother she was right after all, an’ that she’ll niver ha’ a wise man for a son!”

And he went off home. M. C. B.

[Collected by Miss M. C. Balfour. Printed in “Longman’s Magazine”, vol. xv.]




VII.—Draiglin’ Hogney.

Once upon a time there was a man, and he had three sons. The eldest said to his father, “Father, if you’ll gie me a hund, a hawk, and a horse to ride on, I’ll go an’ seek my fortune.”

So his father gave him a hund, a hawk, and a horse to ride on, and he gaed out to seek his fortune.

He rade an’ he rade far an’ far’er than I can tell, till he came to a thick wood and lost his way, and night came on. Then he saw a light, and coming nearer found a splendid castle. He blew the horn, the door opened, but nobody was to be seen. He went in, and found in the hall a fine supper set ready, and a large fire burning.

He ate his supper and sat down by the fire to dry his wet clothes; still nobody came.

At last twelve o’clock struck, the door opened, and in came the Dräglin’ Hogney.

He sat down over against the young man and glowered at him. Then said the Dräglin’ Hogney:

“Does yer horse kick ony?”

“Ow, ay,” said the young man,

“There’s a hair to fling ower him.”

The young man flung it ower his horse.

“Does yer hund bite ony?”

“Ow, ay,” said the young man.

“There’s a hair to fling ower him.”

Again, “Does yer hawk pick ony?”

“Ay, ay,” said the young man.

“There’s a hair to fling ower him.”

With that the Dräglin’ Hogney whiecked (whisked) frae the tae side to the tither, till he fell upon the young man and killed him.

The second son then makes the same request to his father, with the same result.

The third son, finding neither of his brothers return, goes out to seek them, finds of course the same castle and a similar entertainment, but when the Dräglin’ Hogney begins to work his spell by asking, “Does yer horse bite ony?” and giving the hair to fling over him, the young man flings it on the fire.

“What’s that crackin’?” says the Dräglin’ Hogney.

“It’s the craps o’ the green wud come yer waysay,” said the young man.

Again, “Does yer hund bite ony?”

“Does yer hawk pick ony?”

The hairs are thrown on the fire.

“What’s that crackin’?” is asked again.

“It’s the craps o’ the green wud came yer waysay,” is again repeated; whereupon the Dräglin’ Hogney whisked from side to side, but the young man calls to his horse to kick, his hund to bite, and his hawk to pick, and they slay the Dräglin’ Hogney.

The young man then ransacks the castle, finds the enchanter’s wand, disenchants his two brothers, their horses, hawks, and hounds, divides the spoil, sends for their father, and, in the old wind-up of a Scotch fairy tale, they live happy, and dee happy, and never drink out of a dry cappy. Which I take to be the equivalent of the English “live happy ever after”.

[Previously unprinted. Sent with "Kate Crackernuts".]



  1. Mr. Andrew Lang, who has, during the last fifteen years or so, collected several English and Scotch folk-tales, has kindly consented to their being made more accessible to students of folk-lore by being printed together. Messrs. Longmans have also waived their rights over some of the stories. Ed. F.-L.